The Sunday Salon: January 17, 2010

Good morning!  I hope it’s bright and sunny where you are!

In  Southern California we are bracing ourselves for a MAJOR WINTER STORM!  Take cover!  There may be some rain!  I might not be laughing about this a week from now, but when the weather forecasters cry wolf a few times, and the major storm ends up being a few sprinkles.. well, let’s say I’m a bit unimpressed with the warnings.  We’ll see.  Right now it’s sunny, the sky is a brilliant blue, and the only clouds I see are high and fluffy.  But they are moving pretty fast, so.. hmmm.

Today was supposed to be our parent/child book club meeting day, hosted by me, but my oldest has strep throat.  I almost made her go to school on Friday (another one who’s always crying wolf) but she seemed a little warm and listless and had a miserable attitude so I let her stay home.  Later I saw that her throat was inflamed so we went to the doctor.. he said it was viral and to go home and give her Motrin.  But then last night she spiked a high fever and her throat was bright red, so we ended up in the ER for several hours, and she got a shot of penicillin.  Now my husband has a sore throat.  Good times!

I’ve spent some time this morning going through our pictures for Sheri from A Novel Menagerie’s Beautiful Baby pet photo contest.  We have so many that it’s hard to decide what to submit.  She’s having consolation prizes for most humorous and best personality so I’m thinking of entering one of these, rather than the standard “beauty” shot.. tell me what you think:

Where is everybody? Who wants to play with me?

What's THIS? A new pet in the house?

Well, she smells pretty good. Maybe we can be friends.

As for reading, I’m about 2/3rds of the way through both U is for Undertow and American Rust.  I’m usually a one book at a time woman, but I’d left “U” in my car one night and didn’t feel like going out to get it, so I started American Rust and haven’t put it down since. Wish I had a team of people to raise my children, make my meals, do my laundry, clean my house, and shop for me so I could just read read read in my free time.  Wait..I need another me!  I need a wife!! Ha Ha.

What are you reading this weekend?  I hope you all have a wonderful day and a great week!  Thanks for stopping by Books On The Brain.

The Sunday Salon – January 10, 2009

Happy Sunday, everybody.  I’m sitting in my family room that is flooded with bright sunlight trying to wrap my head around the fact that this is January.  We’ve had blue skies and temps in the mid to upper 70s for over a week.  While it’s not unusual to have a day like that in January in Southern California, an entire week is weird, even for us.  We are enjoying it by getting out to ride bikes, visiting the beach, etc.  Typical January activities, right?  (I apologize to all you frozen-over mid-westerners for rubbing it in!)

This past week has been a whirlwind for us, trying to get back into a normal routine after the loosey-goosey schedule of winter break.  The Hub’s been in Vegas for a convention since Tuesday so the girls and I have been on our own.  I’ve gotten back to work and it’s a good thing because things had really piled up while I was off playing with the kids.  School mornings have been crazy (nobody wants to get up) and the homework battles have begun anew.  The kids have also taken to fighting over who gets to sleep with me each night while Dad’s away.  Tonight is the last night before he comes home and I think I’m going to demand that everyone sleep in their own bed.

The kids and I have been reading in the evenings.  My youngest and I are reading Fablehaven by Brandon Mull together for our mother/child book club and really enjoying it.  (My oldest is already on Book 4 of the series).  It’s the story of a brother and sister who go to their reclusive grandparents’ home for 2 weeks while their parents are on a cruise.  The home and property turn out to be a centuries-old refuge for mystical creatures (fairies, etc.) that can only be seen by drinking special milk.  Reading Fablehaven has been a great way for me to get my kids to drink their milk!!

I’m currently reading an old favorite author, Sue Grafton, and her latest, U is for Undertow.  I’d stopped reading this series a few years ago (the last one I read was M is for Malice) but I have no idea why… I LOVE Sue Grafton’s sense of humor, and this book is really fun.  My kids have caught me laughing out loud several times (it’s a mystery but her humor shines throughout).  Her sarcasm and wit just kill me and the way she intersects the various characters is really clever.  Now I’ll have to go back and read N, O, P, Q, R, S, and T to see what I’ve missed!

Tonight is book club night and it’s my turn to host our meeting.  I had my servants kids dusting and vacuuming in preparation yesterday.  The whining and complaining could be heard for miles around.  I decided to go super easy with the food and order out- Pizza Hut makes an awesome chicken fettucini alfredo so that’s what I’m serving.  No cooking!  Tonight we will discuss The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.  We’re also going to watch the movie.  This is something new for us and I’m looking forward to discussing the book vs. movie.  It was such a powerful book and I can’t wait to see Hollywood’s interpretation of it.

Well I’m off to rouse the troops- the bathrooms need attention, the dog needs her pills, the front porch needs to be hosed off, the dishwasher needs emptying, clothes need to be  put away.. the list goes on.  It’s not easy being a taskmaster but someone has to do it!

Thanks for stopping by Books on the Brain.  Leave me a note and tell me what you’re up to this weekend.

Have a great week!

A (Thankful) Sunday Salon

I don’t know about you but I hate those posts where the blogger apologizes for not blogging because they are _________ (fill in the blank) busy, lazy, distracted, sick, tired, *whatever*.  So, I won’t do that.  Because really, nobody cares.

But from looking around I see it is time to dust off the cobwebs in the corners, water the plants, throw open the windows to air the place out and try to get rid of that smell of neglect.

Whew!  That’s better.  (Thank you, BOTB readers, for understanding, and for checking in with me.  I’m fine!  Just uninspired!)

At some point in recent weeks I all but stopped writing reviews.  I have all the usual excuses (busy, etc.) but mostly I’ve just not had the writing mojo.  I would sit down to write a review and the words wouldn’t come.  Now I have so many to write I may never catch up.  I’m thinking of clearing the slate and starting fresh, with the exception of books I agreed to review for others (thank you, authors and publishers, for your patience).  Has anyone else done this?  Just wiped the slate clean and moved on rather than trying to write reviews for books you read weeks ago?  (Thank you, blogging friends, for your advice in this area).

What happened to me?  There was a time when I reviewed everything I read, immediately upon finishing.  It’s much easier to write a review that way.  If enough time passes, the details get fuzzy, and nobody likes a fuzzy reviewer, right?

My aim in the new year:  fuzz-free reviews in a timely manner.

We’re looking forward to some quality family time this week.  The kids are off from school and I do not have to bust my butt cleaning my house and gearing up for company (yay!  YAY!) because Thanksgiving dinner will be somewhere else this year (thank you, Mom, for making dinner!).  All I’m required to do is show up with clean, well behaved children (ha!), a bottle of wine, and a casserole dish full of sweet potatoes (thank you, Tara, for the most excellent recipe!).   My holiday responsibilities end there.

The girls have NO HOMEWORK over the break (thank you, teachers!  I was expecting the worst!)  So we will be out carousing this week.. shopping, seeing movies, going roller skating, and just generally hanging out.  With no school projects to attend to, it will be a real break for them.  We are dying to see New Moon (even Mom’s looking forward to seeing werewolf  Taylor HOTner-all three of us are TEAM JACOB) and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (thank you, Hollywood, for all the great movies this time of year!).  Daddy has to work (thank you, Dad, for being a great provider!), so it will be a whole lot of girl time. Hopefully there will be no drama and we will all get along.

I’m also looking forward to some reading time.  I’m reading How to Save Your Own Life by Michael Gates Gil, a super quick little guide to finding joy in unexpected places.  I need to finish Bold Spirit for a December book club discussion (thank you, book club friends, for enriching my life!).  And finally, I can’t wait to start Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini this week (thank you, Penguin Group, for sending the book!)

What are your plans this Thanksgiving?  What are you reading?

I’m thankful for YOU.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The Sunday Salon – Books and Brats

Ahhhh, the end of a very long week.  Happy Sunday!  Today I’ve broken my post up into two sections, for those who would just like to read about books rather than all the nonsense that goes on with my kids.  So the first section is books, and the second section is brats.

Reading:

imageDB-5.cgiI finished Her Fearful Symmetry yesterday, which is set at Highgate Cemetery in London (adding to the creep factor of the book).  My thoughts as I turned the last page were, “What?!  That’s IT?”  I know there has been much gushing from bloggers over this book, but I haven’t read the posts (only skimmed).  I haven’t decided what I think of the book yet.  Until the very end I was expecting and waiting for a confrontation between two of the characters that never took place.  And I was disappointed by that.

After the moody gloomy feel of HFS I wanted something distinctly different, so last night I read the first few chapters of A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents by Liza Palmer (which, so far, has nothing to do with cemeteries).  So far I like it.  It kind of reminds me of another book I read and enjoyed recently, The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum.  The main character has n309236similar issues (youngish, social life revolves around work, lost her mother at an early age, distant relationship with family, health issues in immediate family bring everyone together, etc.) but I’ve only read maybe 35 pages so who knows where it all will go.  It’s set in Southern California, where I live, so that part is really fun for me.

Coming up this month from the TBR pile are Who By Fire (because the guilt is getting to me), Goldengrove (for an upcoming tour), In a Perfect World (also for a tour), Olive Kitteridge (book club pick for Oct) and The Angel’s Game (for the RIP IV Challenge).

This afternoon, Sheri and I are going out for a drink together while our collective kids attend a pool party/ BBQ for their youth group.  I include this in the “Reading” section because we always talk about books and blogs when we get together!  She’s been working hard on several BBAW panels, but the panel work is complete (the voting begins next week) and she desperately needs to wind down after all that blog reading!

What are you reading this week?

Home and Kids:

This week was interesting.  My oldest started junior high and her emotions have been all over the map!  The first day she was all YAY! and I LOVE SCHOOL!  The second day she was grumpy, SO tired, and even simple questions like, “What’s wrong?” were met with major attitude, i.e.  “Nothing!  WHY DO YOU ASK?!”  We gave her a wide berth.  Days 3-5 brought everything from tears to elation.  I never know what to expect after school.  Hopefully this transition phase will be brief and she will settle into a routine soon.

Already she has homework and already we’ve argued about it.  She has to draw an island to scale on graph paper with 10 different physical features (bay, isthmus, peninsula, etc.), name all the different features with creative names and then color it all in with colored pencils.  She was given until Thursday to complete it and wanted to wait until next week to start it (probably Wednesday night).  She is the Princess of Procrastination (I’m the Queen!)

I wanted her to work on it over the weekend because she’ll have other homework next week, plus when you’re given a week to complete an assignment, the teacher’s expectations are likely pretty high (and this is an honors class).  You can’t just slap something together the night before.   She also has to label a map with all 144 countries of the world, then color that in.  Thankfully she started that on Tuesday and only has a dozen more countries to identify before she can start coloring.  But she wanted to relax and play Club Penguin all morning.  I took away computer until she did a minimum of 30 minutes on the project.  “That’s not fair, Mom!”   The school year fun begins.

What should I wear?

What should I wear?

My younger daughter starts 5th grade at a new school on Tuesday.  She is super excited and doesn’t seem to have any anxiety over being the new girl at school.  She has 2 friends at the school so I’m hoping it will all be very easy for her.  She put on a fashion show for us last night to try to figure out what to wear on the first day.  I think she has settled on black shorts, black Vans with white polka-dots, and a purple peace sign shirt that has a little scarf that goes with it.  With the weather in the 90s, she definitely doesn’t need the scarf, but it “totally makes the outfit” which, of course, is much more important than being comfortable.  At least I talked her out of the skinny jeans and the pink fleece hoodie-that would have been a sweaty combo!

Tonite, dad comes home from a 4 day business trip to Kansas City.  The kids will be at an end of summer party for their youth group, and Sheri and I are going out.  Tomorrow will be a relaxing day of swimming and BBQ’ing at my parent’s house, but it will be an early evening because IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT.  YEAH!

Happy Back to School Week!

The Sunday Salon – May 31, 2009

TSSbadge3It’s quiet around here today- the hub’s out of town on business and daughter #2 went to a sleepover birthday party last night.  Daughter #1 is still in bed, so it’s just me and the dog, hanging out.  And of course, lots of book bloggers are out of town at BEA.  The silence is deafening!

images-1This has been a good week for reading.  I finished Truth & Beauty, read and reviewed The Virgin Suicides, got about 2/3rds of the way through Beach Trip for our Summer Reading Series, and read about 100 pages of The Local News for an upcoming TLC tour.   My youngest and I started reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan together for our newly formed mother/child book club, inspired by Julie at Booking Mama.  Our first meeting will be in July with 11 kids (boys and girls) and 9 adults- we’re excited.  It’s amazing how much reading you can do when you turn off the tv.

9780316025270_154X233A lot of books made their way into my hands this week.  I received The Art of Racing in the Rain from Harper Collins- it was a win from a book club website.  I also won The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from Random House.  Both ‘Racing’ and ‘Guernsey’ are books I’ve been wanting to read since they first came out; I can’t wait!  Love Begins in Winter, a collection of short stories by Simon Van Booy, also came from Harper Collins.  I’m not sure about this one.  I love short stories, but in looking over the book I’m not in love with the author’s style.  I was going to use it for a Teaser Tuesday post, but the sentences are all super short and choppy, and not just in one area.  I looked at probably 20 sample pages.  So I don’t know.  The Skinny:  Adventures of America’s First Bulimic by Rayni Joan came from the author, and last but not least, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie let me borrow Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.  I’m really looking forward to that one.

9781439102817And I still have to buy a couple of books!  Still Alice by Lisa Genova is my book club’s July pick, and Life of Pi by Yan Martell is our pick for August.  Must get my hands on those.  I will never have enough time to read all the books in my house- unless I stop working and ignore the house, the laundry, my friends and my family for a month or so and do nothing but read.  As tempting as that sounds, it ain’t gonna happen.

Last night, though, I took a break from reading and had a movie night with my 11 year old daughter.  We watched Mean Girls and Legally Blond 2 and pigged out on cookies & cream ice cream.  It was nice spending some one on one time with my oldest.  My kids can be a handful when they’re together, but separately they are angels (well, mostly..), and I think they crave and really need time alone with me and with their dad.  They get sick of being seen as a unit and don’t always want to vie for our attention.

After my girl fell asleep I watched Rachel Getting Married with Anne Hathaway and sobbed like a baby!  The tears were just streaming out of me like a faucet, soaking my face and neck, and I didn’t even try to stop them.  I totally get why she was nominated for Best Actress for this role. She’s come a long way from The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted (loved those, too, but in a different way).

Well I hope everyone has a great week.  June, already!  It’s hard to believe.  For us that means 6th grade graduation, 2 more weeks of school, and then a gaggle of kids in and out of the house every day for 12 weeks.  I’m not ready!!!!!

Leave me a note and tell me what you’re reading this week.  Happy Sunday!

Sunday Salon – 4/5/09

img_2438Good Morning!  I hope everyone is feeling refreshed and relaxed today!

We woke up to a whole lot of soggy toilet paper on our lawn this morning.  Even my car in the driveway was wrapped in TP.  This is the second night in a row.. paybacks, I suppose, for my kids’ antics of a couple of nights ago when they did the same thing to their friends.  They’re excited and are calling and texting their friends to see who did this.  No one is ‘fessing up.

img_2436We had a mid life-wake up call this week.  On Thursday, my husband, a big strong man who thinks he’s still in his 20s but is really twice that, had sudden chest pain.  He said it felt like a lightning bolt through his chest and into his back that lasted for 10-15 seconds, then after that what felt like a sore muscle in his back.  I was out doing my daily 4 mile walk with a friend when it happened, but when I came home he was standing there, pale and scared.  My first thought was ‘heart attack’.  I said- we better go to the hospital, and he said- I don’t have time!  I have too much to do! But I insisted, so off we went.  

At the hospital they took him immediately (now THAT was a first!), put him on oxygen, took all his vitals, drew blood, did an EKG.  They take chest pain very seriously.  Over the course of 6 hours in the ER he had 2 EKGs, a chest x-ray, 3 blood draws, and a stress test, and it was determined that he did not have a heart attack (whew!  dodged a bullet!).  They said the problem appears to be muscular-skeletal in nature- his heart and lungs are fine. I asked if it could be a muscle pull, because the day before he had been lifting and moving furniture into his new office.  I said to my husband (in front of the doctor), “Maybe you’re a little too old to be lifting heavy oak desks, what do you think?” and he just gave me a look, like- mind your bizness, woman.  

Seriously, though- he doesn’t get enough sleep, eats crappy food, doesn’t exercise, works long hours, and is constantly stressed.  That’s a recipe for disaster at his age. I do the best I can but I can’t force him to act like an adult and take care of himself. I hope this episode will be the catalyst for him to at least think about a healthier lifestyle.  I’m not sure, though, since he’s been working in San Diego all weekend.  I can’t monitor if he’s eating, sleeping, etc. when he’s not even here!  I do know that he and a couple of the guys went out for a big steak dinner at 8 pm last night, and I’m sure cocktails were included, so..  no major changes yet. Fingers crossed for next week.

So.. reading.  Let’s see.  I finished The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady this week for an upcoming TLC tour stop.  It’s a top-notch short story collection.  Then I started Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.  I love her writing.  LOVE it.  I love being wrapped up in the little worlds her books create.  I can’t wait to see her at the LA Times Festival of Books.  She’s on a fiction panel on Saturday called Window on the World, along with authors Vanina Marsot, Muriel Barbery, and Jonathan Rabb.  

I’m also reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud to my youngest.  This child drives me crazy..  her AR reading level is the 2nd highest in her fourth grade class, yet she insists on reading the Magic Treehouse series and Katie Kazoo books.. way beneath her level.  She doesn’t like to read- to her it is a big chore, so she goes for whatever is easy.  Her teacher requires 20 minutes of reading a day as part of their homework and she wants the students to get 50 AR points by the end of the year, but the books my daughter reads are one and two points each, so she’s not even close to her 50 points.  The Harry Potter books are 12 points each but she didn’t think she’d like them- she thought they’d be too hard (almost anything is going to be harder than what she’s been reading).  I’m reading the first one to her in the hopes that she’ll get hooked, and so far it seems to be working.  I overheard her very animatedly telling my mother about the mail delivery system with the owls in HP so I guess she’s becoming interested.  

OH!  I have winners to announce!  I almost forgot!  The second winner of The Blue Notebook is Zibilee from Raging Bibliomania– congratulations!  And the (long overdue) winner of Hope’s Boy is Ti of Book Chatter and Other Stuff- congratulations!   (Ti’s in Palm Springs this weekend so she’s probably a little too busy to care about winning a book.)

Well that’s it for me.  What are you reading this week?

The Sunday Salon

tssbadge3It’s Sunday! Wonderful Sunday! I hope everybody had a good week.

Today my family is preparing to ship our oldest off to 6th grade camp in the mountains for a week. She is super excited. I’ve been giving the Sharpie a workout, writing her name on everything (“Does everything I own have to have my images-12name on it?” “According to your teacher, yes.”) Her biggest concern is that she won’t like the food and that she’ll be hungry, and I worry about that too since she is underweight to begin with and extremely picky. I told her she will just have to eat whatever is offered or go without. I’ve tried to adapt that rule at home but usually I cave in and let her eat something other than what the rest of us are having, just to get some calories in her. Yes, I’ve created a (finicky) monster. Maybe this week at camp will change that.

images3My book club meets today here at my house. I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon cleaning, and today I will spend a good chunk of my morning making chicken enchiladas for later. Sheri will be mixing up the margaritas (she claims to be a pro!) and then we’ll sit down to discuss Sarah’s Key. We’re sending the kids (hers and mine) and my husband across the street to another book club member’s house so the guys can watch March Madness while our kids babysit my neighbor’s 4 year old twins.

During my clean up for book club I had to move my pile of books waiting to be read and reviewed. NOT my huge TBR pile of books without deadlines, but the ones that I have committed to reviewing. I did some quick mental calculations (3 times 4, carry the 1… where the hell is my calculator???) and found that I need to read about 4,800 pages before the end of April. That doesn’t include my book for book club, to be discussed on the first Sunday in May, another 300+ pages. So that’s about 128 pages of reading daily. The problem is, I secret-keeperaverage about 50 ppd (pages per day), with occasional gusts of up to 200 ppd. But some days I don’t have time (or I’m too tired) to read at all. I think I need to start saying no to the review books for a while, before I crack under the pressure!

I signed a new client this week- Paul Harris and his book, The Secret Keeper, will be on tour with TLC beginning mid-May. I hadn’t heard about this book before, but it sounds really exciting!

This week I finished Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson (still need to write the review) and got about 2/3rds of the way through The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson. I hope to finish that tonight, unless Sheri is reeeeeeally good at mixing margaritas.

Enjoy your Sunday! What are you reading this week?